I work for a Jewish nonprofit that is perhaps best known in some circles for our happy hours that “Gather the Jews” of DC together at trendy bars throughout the city every month.
These happy hours have been gracing our Jewish community since the good ole days of 2010. Over the past nine years, these monthly gatherings have helped thousands of young DC-area Jews with diverse interests, backgrounds, levels of religiosity, professions, and relationship statuses make their bubbies proud.
And yet, if I earned a shekel for every time someone in the community has said “I hate those Jewish happy hours”, I’d be floating on a blow-up unicorn in my private infinity pool full of hummus right about now. #lifegoals
But, I digress.
The fact of the matter is that there seems to be a large percentage of the young Jewish DC community that feels happy hours, well, kind of suck. As the person who does the marketing for these happy hours, and as a regular attendee myself, I decided it might be a really good idea to compile a list of reasons why.
1. You have to make painfully awkward small talk with strangers.
Yes. I feel this one. I mean, how many times are people going to ask “What do you do?” Seriously? Even though I spend 60% of my waking hours at my job, it’s such a random question! Plus, small talk is boring and leads to nowhere.
And yes, maybe it was small talk at GatherDC happy hours that led me to meet the woman who became my boss, the people who became some of my closest friends in DC, and the man who became my husband. But really – enough with the small talk.
2. You have to pay $5 to get into the happy hour and don’t even get a free drink!
Look, it’s not like I can’t afford the $5, it’s the principle of it! Why should I have to put $5 of my hard-earned money toward an entry fee to these happy hours? It would be one thing if that money was supporting something important, like a local Jewish nonprofit organization that is a pretty big part of my life in DC. But I have no idea where that money is going.
Ugh, I’ll just head home. Hold on though, let me stop by Sweetgreen to get a $14 salad.
3. You’re peer-pressured into wearing a name-tag.
It’s awful. I hate having to go through the effort of taking 12 seconds to write my name on a sticker. Also, sticking the sticker to my beautiful outfit totally ruins the look I was going for. Everyone at these fashion-forward happy hours really cares what I’m wearing.
I would much rather have people ask me 17 times to repeat my name because they have trouble remembering.
4. You have to be happy for a full hour – or more!
What if I had a bad day at work and am feeling stressed out? What if my mom just called nagging me and I’m super annoyed? What if I just ate three slices of cheese pizza but I’m lactose intolerant so I’m feeling extremely bloated? The pressure to be forced into happiness for an extended period of time is almost too much for me to handle.
What’s that you say? GatherDC’s Rabbi Aaron Potek already made it clear that all emotions are welcome at Jewish happy hours? So, I can come as my real, authentic self even if that means I’m full of annoyance or exhaustion or sadness? Alright then, I’m going to show up to the next happy hour with a big pouty face on. Just you wait.
5. There’s way better things I could be doing with my night.
I work hard during the day and when the clock strikes 6pm, the night is my oyster (#notkosher). Why spend it in a bar full of potential new friends? My Netflix app gets mad at me when I don’t binge watch “The Office” for the eighth time.
Yeah, meeting awesome young adults and finding connection to Jewish DC life is definitely not how I want to spend an hour of my night.
In sum, it seems that these Jewish happy hours we love to hate are the same places that we can find our future community, roommates, soulmates, friends, and colleagues. They have the potential to connect us to one another, and help us find one of our places in the Jewish community. It’s these very happy hours that, while at times awkward, might just be the starting point to living your very best Jewish life. And hey, if they suck – you can always go home to spend the rest of the night with Dwight Schrute and your Sweetgreen salad.
P.S. Our next happy hour is May 22nd at Takoda. See you there?
P.P.S. We fully understand that happy hours just might not be your scene. Some people don’t like spending time in bars or feel uncomfortable in large groups of people. Our only goal at GatherDC is to help you find your fit in Jewish DC life – however that works best for you. If happy hours aren’t for you, there is zero pressure to attend. We have tons of other ways for you to connect to Jewish life! We can connect you to intimate cohort experiences, Jewish learning, volunteer opportunities, and a huge calendar with amazing events around the city. If you’re not sure where to begin, let’s grab coffee (our treat!) so we can help you find your people and place in this community. No happy hour attendance required.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.